Susan Arendt’s Horror Picks: ATM
Before we get to today’s movie selection, I wanted to mention that everything I’m mentioning is available via download, and is usually free via Netflix (or at least was on there last I checked.)
Ok! The horror movie du jour is ATM. Admittedly, it combines two things I really personally enjoy in horror: a situation in which the environment itself is an enemy, and a good, old-fashioned psycho killer. I much prefer those two situations to supernatural horror like ghosts or (please no) vampires or demons, probably because I like my horror to be at least somewhat plausible. ATM’s basic set up is simple, yet very much grounded in reality – three officemates leave the company party on Christmas Eve, decide they want some pizza on the way, and stop off at one of those ATM vestibules to get some cash. The vestibule is one of those ones that’s in the middle of a parking lot that you need to use your card to get into – not terribly common in more suburban settings, but relatively ordinary in and around cities. It’s late at night, nobody’s around (because it’s freezing and Christmas Eve), and all three hustle into the vestibule to hurry up, get the money, and be on there way. Before they can, a mysterious figure shows up with ill intent. And that’s the set up! Ok, you’re locked in this tiny building with a bad guy between you and your car. You’ve got nothing except whatever’s in your pockets and in the room with you. GO!
I enjoy those kind of situations, because they’re problem solving with high stakes, and they tap in to the kind of things that can be scary in real life. Not that I think a maniac is ever likely to pin me in a parking lot, but I might find myself stranded on the road in the middle of the night with nothing but what’s in my purse and trunk. Or maybe I’m on holiday somewhere abroad and there’s a natural disaster. Perhaps it’s a bit odd to think of horror movies as emergency prep, but I kind of do. Even if you don’t, though, ATM presents characters who do things that are recognizable as real-life reactions to a variety of situations, which makes what happens even scarier. These aren’t morons going in the house that is CLEARLY haunted and dangerous, they’re just three cubicle warriors who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s a bit of gore, but nothing too terribly graphic or prolonged. The fear comes from suspense and implied threat as opposed to a lot of on-screen violence.